I love the idea of baking with my children. And at this time of year, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was obligatory.
The foodie magazines are full of festive recipes – for gingerbread men, child-friendly mince pies and present-shaped pastry decorations with which to adorn your tree.
TV programmes are overflowing with suggestions for home-made gifts, truffles and fudges that are false-teeth-friendly and therefore ideal for grandparents - the idea being that you can whip them up with your youngsters before wrapping them in tissue paper and handing them over (the truffles, not the youngsters, that is).
And what better way to spend an hour on a rainy day than creating pastry stars for the tree, piping the edges with icing and placing them on your Nordic Pine as a home made alternative to the shop-bought stuff?
There is an onslaught of this sort of propaganda at this kind of year, leaving hapless mums like me with the idea that this is what any half decent parent WILL do in the run up to Christmas.
With this in mind, I decided to make some mince pies with the toddler this week.
I will tell you now that it didn’t end well.
I deliberately picked a recipe entitled, ‘Really Easy Mince Pies’. But I quickly discovered that the ‘really easy’ label could only be applied to those who aren’t attempting to make them with a two-year-old intent on flinging flour across the kitchen, sticking pastry in his ears and shovelling mincemeat into his mouth with his bare hands.
The preparation part of it wasn’t even the most challenging. He gave up on that after the first five minutes and decided it was time to do some washing up.
While the feminist in me was glad to be raising a boy unafraid to get stuck into domestic chores, I turned my back for a second to attempt to stick on a pastry lid . . . and found the washing up bowl upturned and the kitchen looking like the floor of our local swimming pool.
By the time I’d cobbled together the first uncooked mince pie, the oven had been pre-heating for over an hour.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the ensuing the fiasco, except to say that after mopping up, wiping up and sticking the toddler in front of Mr Tumble for eight minutes – to keep his mitts out of the mincemeat long enough for me to actually get it into the pastry cases - I couldn’t help but come to one conclusion.